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  • Cited by 4
  • Print publication year: 2008
  • Online publication date: November 2009

7 - Memory within a complex information processing model of autism

Summary

Introduction

Clinical neuropsychologists have often commented that sometimes a memory problem is not a problem with memory. The implication of this remark is that what appears to be a difficulty with remembering is actually the result of a deficit in some other domain of cognitive functioning, influencing memory only indirectly. Our studies of the profile of neuropsychological functioning in autism have provided evidence of multiple primary coexisting deficits with one of the affected cognitive processes being memory (Minshew, Goldstein & Siegel, 1997; Williams, Goldstein & Minshew, 2006a). Over the past fifteen years, we have performed comprehensive studies of memory functioning in over 100 children, adolescents and adults, all of whom met Autism Diagnostic Interview (ADI & ADI-Revised, Le Couteur et al., 1989; Lord, Rutter & Le Couteur, 1994), Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS; Lord et al., 1989, 1999), and expert opinion criteria for autistic disorder (AD), including onset prior to age 3 years. The lower limit of Full-Scale and Verbal IQ scores varied between 70 and 80 depending on the study. The results of this research have led us to conclude that the memory impairment is universal across participants with high-functioning autism (HFA), but is selective in that it does not involve all aspects of memory functioning. The memory processes in HFA are differentially affected by domain, demands of the memory task, and the cognitive abilities of the individual.